The Zephyrhills girls volleyball team took some time off from finals week at school to give Central an exam at the Class 4A, District 7 tournament opener Wednesday night. Needless to say, the Bears didn't pass.
Or serve. Or hit effectively. And the Bulldogs took advantage with near mistake-free volleyball to post a surprisingly easy 15-6, 15-2 win at Land O'Lakes High School.
"The wrong team showed up tonight," Central coach Wayne Miller said. "This was one night we didn't play well."
Zephyrhills, on the other hand, played extremely well. It didn't overpower the Bears, although they had more kills, but merely dug and put the ball back on the Bears' side, where Central more often than not pounded it into the net or out of bounds.
"They made a lot of mistakes," said Bulldog coach Pat Moul, whose team has won seven of 10 games after a 3-6 start. "Our basic thing is to let the other team make the mistakes. I think they got frustrated tonight, and that's where a lot of the mistakes came from."
Kimberly Coleman powered the Zephyrhills (10-9) offense with seven kills, and sophomore Jennifer Fritz handed out 12 assists and played solid defense.
In the second game, Fritz set Ailisa Hall for a kill, and then slid across the floor to dig a Bear kill try. While she was still on the ground, Central spiked it right back to her, but Fritz one-handed the ball to a teammate, leading to a point. She set Jennifer Rink for a kill seconds later to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead.
Bonnie Norman added five kills for Zephyrhills, who will meet top-seeded Hernando at 6 tonight in a semifinal.
Central finished at 11-12.
In Wednesday's other match, Hudson (18-11) beat Pasco 15-0, 15-4. The Cobras will meet the Gators in tonight's other semifinal at 8.
5A-7: North Suncoast
teams fall short
EAST LAKE _ East Lake recorded the first district tournament victory in school history with a 15-10, 15-7 win over Springstead in the Class 5A, District 7 tournament at East Lake. In the other first-round games, Tarpon Springs beat Ridgewood 16-14, 15-5 and Dunedin downed Gulf 15-11, 15-10.
"We have the ability to win the tournament," East Lake coach Kathy Phebus said. "We just have to go out and prove it on the court."
The Eagles were led by the serving of Susan Rawlings, who had eight service aces. Jenni Dunbar followed with four.
"We knew we were going to win the match," Rawlings said. "I think we have more confidence now and have everybody healthy."
East Lake's win set up a match with Tarpon Springs at 6 p.m. today. The Spongers had to rally in order to get by Ridgewood. Afterward, Tarpon Springs coach Stefanie Decker left the team to Shannon Cooper, who held a meeting at the south corner of the East Lake gym.
_ BOB PUTNAM
4A-8: River Ridge
falls to CCC
CLEARWATER _ State volleyball powers Clearwater Central Catholic and Lakewood ensured a much-anticipated matchup for the Class 4A, District 8 championship at 7 Friday night.
Host CCC, ranked ninth in the Class 4A state poll, rolled past River Ridge 15-10, 15-4 in the opening match Wednesday. Lakewood beat Osceola 15-3, 15-11 in the other match.
After falling behind 10-6, the Marauders ran off nine consecutive points to take the opening game.
"We had some mental lapses early," CCC coach Nancy Polinger said. "Once we regrouped and started passing more, everything fell in place."
The Marauders continued to attack in game two behind senior Kim Zschau.
Zschau, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker who led CCC with twoblocks and seven kills, powered the Marauders to a 10-4 lead. One block later, they ran off five consecutive service points for the 15-4 victory.
_ CHARLES HARRIS